Mental Marvel - Senator Crandall
The spectator thinks of any card in the deck except one of the four aces, explaining that aces are easy and everyone always thinks of an Ace. Then the magician holds a card towards the spectator and says, “Look at the first row and see if you see the same VALUE of your card? If you do, say yes. If you don’t, say no.” After going through each row, he would say, “Now I'm going to determine the suit of your card. If you see your suit in the first row say yes, if not say no.” When he was finished he would reveal the card.
When I first decided to market this effect I was not 100% sure of the origination. I had received the original vintage prop from John Cornelius and I called it the Crand-Binary Card. I was told that Senator Clarke Crandall had performed the effect. I also never saw the original instructions and therefore had to reverse engineer the method. I developed a similar effect after studying “A Mathematical Problem” from Hatton & Plates’ Magician’s Tricks. My version is called “Merely Thought of” and is included in these instructions. I was very interested in finding out about Senator Crandall’s effect so I asked Max Maven, who is literally a “walking-talking genius” with a seemingly encyclopedic brain, not only of magical knowledge but of general history and more. He was gracious to provide me with the following information:
Hi, Geno. The Crandall trick was marketed in 1956, as “The Mental Marvel Card,” priced at one dollar for the card plus three pages of instructions. (The initial ads had the price at two dollars, but it was subsequently changed. We don’t know if the higher price was an error, or if it was decided to reduce the price for more sales.) The trick is based on binary sorting, an idea that first appears applied to magic around 1000 years ago, in China. It also shows up in Japan, circa 1300. Today, it is usually referred to as the “Magic Age Cards,” because the most common application involves cards with numbers; the spectator finds the cards that include his/her age, and the performer is able to reveal that number. Interestingly, it was the first magic trick ever commercially produced in the United States: “The Impenetrable Secret,” put out in 1749 by Benjamin Franklin and David Hall (yes, that Ben Franklin). Using such systems for a thought-of playing card has its own specific history.
In 1910, Theodore DeLand released “Million Dollar Mystery,” which was an unwieldy approach, involving nine cards, each bearing the images of thirty cards. Thus, 270 cards were shown, to determine which of 52 was being thought of. A much better version was Charles T. Jordan’s “Demon's Divination,” put out around 1920, which used 28 cards. Joseph Ovette marketed “The Buddha Whispers” in 1933, which required 24 cards. U. F. Grant’s “Monte Carlo” also used 24 cards, with a gambling presentation; it was marketed in 1935. (Note that the Crandall gimmick also displays 24 cards.) Since then, there have been many further variants, by such as Howard Albright, Karl Fulves, and Jim Steinmeyer.
I published my own solution, “Zen Poker,” in my 1984 book Thequal, and it was also included in my recent DVD set, Kayfabe. My version reduces the required cards to a set of ten. Hope this is of some help. Regards, Max
The Mental Marvel Card Adaptation by Geno Munari Based on original concept by Senator Clarke Crandall: vintage prop graphic from John Cornelius. This is a great trick that was performed by Senator Clarke Crandall a frequent visitor to the Magic Castle and many conventions throughout the magic world. John Cornelius provided a copy of the original prop. This is an adaptation of his trick that he performed with a single playing card with four rows of six cards that he would use to reveal the thought of a selected card. NOTE: I have never seen the original instructions after searching everywhere. I had to reverse engineer the effect and hope it is as worthy of Senator Crandall’s original version. If someone has a copy of the instructions please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.